A well-dressed man stands on stage telling jokes with an emphasis on puns and sexual innuendo. This carnival barker-like individual is the emcee for the show of burlesque. There are no stripper poles or lap dances in this form of erotic entertainment, a form of striptease that more often relies on suggestion than the explicit. The burlesque revival that has been taking place for years now is the subject of a new documentary by Jon Manning, Burlesque: Heart of the Glitter Tribe. This is a lively documentary that examines the empowering and creative nature of this subculture while presenting the audience with a variety of sexy women shedding layers of clothing in this celebration of burlesque.
Manning interviews both men and women involved in the modern burlesque revival. Each individual is rather blunt about how they came into burlesque as a hobby and how their stage shows have allowed a sense of liberation for each of them. Some have struggled with histories of abuse or issues related to substance abuse and find an outlet in the crafting of elaborate performances that include the creating and choreography of their burlesque shows. There’s a mixture of comedy and erotica that takes center stage in their performances and part of the fun of the documentary is seeing how some of these unusual aspects come to life.
What really stands out in Burlesque: Heart of the Glitter Tribe is how this really is more than hobby for its participants. They don’t make much money from their stage shows of strip tease, but there’s a passion that drives them to spend their free time imagining new and inventive ways to lose layers of clothing. The creativity extends further as most of the performers craft their own costumes in a painstaking, meticulous fashion that sees them placing on individual rhinestones by the hundreds. These are people that many would consider to be lost souls that found a creative outlet that has emboldened them as individuals, and only the most self-righteous, moralistic jerk could look down upon them.
Burlesque: Heart of the Glitter Tribe isn’t a great documentary but it’s a loving celebration of a subculture that is incredibly inclusive. The movie moves along at an efficient pace and has a nice ebb and flow between the heavier aspects of its subjects and the creative sensuality of their performances. For just under 80 minutes, Burlesque: Heart of the Glitter Tribe takes us deeper into a subculture with a sense of joy that is infectious, and it’s impossible to look away when the lights drop, the music starts, and the sexy show begins.
Burlesque: Heart of the Glitter Tribe
- Overall Score
A fun, loving look at a thriving subculture, Burlesque: Heart of the Glitter Tribe entertains with its behind the scenes look at the ribald world of modern burlesque and how the hobby can be a form of therapy for some.